According to foodservice business Horizons' latest biannual Menurama research, prices saw the biggest rise of any six month period since the survey launched in 2006 with the average cost of a starter now £5.59 and maincourses and desserts £10.62 and £4.20 respectively.
The study of menu changes across 116 chain hotels, pubs, restaurants and fast food outlets, also found that operators were highlighting provenance more on menus with terms such as 'local sourcing', 'free-range', 'organic' and 'homemade' appearing more frequently. Since the summer of 2010, the use of food provenance labels has risen 18 per cent and is expected to rise further in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
“Descriptions of food provenance are something Menurama has tracked previously, but operators are now using it far more," said Horizons' director of services Nicola Knight. "This survey was undertaken before the recent horsemeat scandal emerged, but because of renewed concerns over food sourcing, particularly meat, we would expect our next survey to show even more effort being made by operators to reassure consumers with details of provenance.
The survey also found that sharing dishes was a growth area, either for smaller taste-style platters such as All Bar One's beef sliders and Wagamama's combo desserts or for main courses to be shared such as the 23oz dry-aged rump steak at Carluccio's. More unusual Mexican dishes were also making it onto more menus, Knight said.
“Menus are really reflecting the changing nature of how British consumers eat out – the fact dining out is a treat, that it’s a chance to indulge in something more luxurious than you would have at home and for many it’s a chance to share food with friends, but at the same time there is concern about the food they are eating, so provenance and reassurance is increasingly important,” she added.
Meanwhile, it appears that diners are not put off by the rising price of menus with the 22 pub and restaurant groups contributing figures to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker seeing this year's Easter sales up 7 per cent on last year's.
Total sales, including the impact of new site openings were up 10.4 per cent with restaurant chains, who include Brown's, Strada and Pizza Express seeing the biggest rise with total sales up 14.6 per cent.
Like-for-like, restaurant chain sales were up 9 per cent while pub group sales were up 6.2 per cent on Easter 2012.
This year's drier Easter and an earlier start to the school holidays were the main drivers, according to Peter Martin of Peach Factory, which produces the report with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS.
Martin said: “Although this Easter was bitterly cold, it was sunnier and drier than the Easter weekend last year, which was generally wet and miserable. People seemed much happier, if not relieved after last month’s snow, to get out and about.
“Last year, Easter was also a week later, from April 6 to 9, and came at the end of, and even in some parts of the country after, the school break. For most families, this year it kicked off the holidays.”